preface: hi! i think i have been struggling with anxiety all my life, and later in my adult years with depression & panic attacks. i was in therapy in high school because my mom found out i was abusing drugs. i went cold-turkey sober for many years, but have since struggled again with my mental health n also addiction. i had wanted to see a therapist again in my adulthood for many many years, but put it off until i was close to a mental breakdown earlier this year. i finally decided to seek therapy a few months ago, and im SO SO glad i did. i wanted to make a page to document some healthy coping mechanisms and resources if you're struggling as well. as always, i am an open ear ready to listen. <3
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there are a few things i found that help me when i'm dealing with a panic attack, including...
talk yourself out of it
panic attacks are a sudden feeling of anxiety, panic, that something's wrong, and the associated body sensations are very intense. it can often feel like you're dying or about to have a heart attack. other sensations include numbness, difficulty of breathing, shaking, coldness, etc. these are all normal associations with a panic attack. even though it feels like it, you're not actually dying. you won't die from a panic attack. i find it helpful to tell this to myself outloud: "you're just having a panic attack, these are symptoms of a panic attack, what i am feeling is a panic attack" and it can help ease the anxiety. don't forget also...
- controlling your breath is very important. focus on breathing steady. breathing will get you through scary and difficult times. there are a few breathing 'methods', but i like to do box breathing:
breathe in for 5 counts
hold for 5 counts
breathe out for 5 counts
hold for 5 counts
- this technique is to help you calm down and ground yourself with reality. it's meant to focus your mind on outside sensations rather than inner sensations. try this out:
5. name 5 different things that you can see of a specific color.
4. touch 4 different things. pay attention the sensation of how it feels.
3. listen for 3 different things. what do you hear? name them to yourself.
2. smell 2 different things. what is it and what is the smell like?
1. taste 1 thing. describe how it tastes. (hint: carry around a piece of gum or candy)
- run cold water on the faucet, fill your hands and SPLASH it on your face.
- eat an ice cube. hold it in your mouth the whole time until it melts.
- take a shower if you can.
the idea is to shock yourself out of your mind and back into your 'body'. splashing yourself with water will shock your senses and *snap* you out of it. the bodily sensations of a shower will help distract you, too.
change of environment
- if you can, leave the space where you are having your panic attack. a change of environment will help immensley. go outside for fresh air if you can.